KEARNEY, Neb. – The best season in UC San Diego women’s basketball history came to an abrupt finish following a 67-53 loss in the NCAA D-II national semifinals to No. 7 Southern Connecticut State University on Thursday night at University of Nebraska, Kearney's Health & Sports Center.
The 12th-ranked Tritons see their season end with a 27-5 record while the Owls improve to 33-2 and will play in the national championship game on Saturday at 5 p.m. on ESPN2. The 27 wins for UCSD was the most in program history, surpassing the old mark of 23 that was set in both 1997-98 and in 2005-06.
Despite being out-rebounded by a 24-15 margin, the Tritons were up, 28-26 at halftime after holding SCSU to a .273 shooting percentage in the first 20 minutes.
UCSD built a lead of five after the first three and a half minute of the second half and held a 42-38 advantage with 13:25 to play before going ice cold. SCSU would go on a 17-2 run over the next eight plus minutes to build a 55-44 lead that would dip below 10 points only one time in the final five minutes of the contest.
Each team had four players score in double figures led by the Owls’ All-American Kate Lynch who scored 22 points while also pulling down 12 rebounds. Shamika Jackson scored 16 points and had five assists while Babette Noah chipped in with 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. LaShauna Jones added 10 points and a game-high seven assists in the win for SCSU.
Seniors Leora Juster and Hillary Hansen, along with sophomore Michelle Osier all scored 12 points in the loss for the Tritons while junior Meaghan Noud added 10. Osier also pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds.
As a team, UCSD struggled from the floor in the second half, making only 10 of its 32 shots (31.3%), but the biggest difference in the game came at the free throw line. The Tritons took only four foul shots on the night, making all four, but SCSU went 21-for-30, accounting for 17 more points at the foul line in the game.
Despite the loss, head coach Janell Jones’ team has much to be proud of, including winning the program’s first league title and first NCAA D-II West Region Championship.